Train Your Brain To Think Positively

African American woman open arms thankfulThere are a lot of us who tend to think negatively automatically. We cannot escape someone’s critiques while completely ignoring compliments. Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning who is the author of The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns by Changing Your Brain Chemistry addresses this.

 Dr. Graziano Breuning sheds light on not only how habitual thinking negatively develops, but also how we can retrain ourselves to surpass the negativity. Ultimately, the goal, as she puts it, is to “experience our world without negativity.”

A recent Harvard University study revealed that women with an optimistic outlook were less probable to pass away due to cancer, infection and heart disease. Dr. Breuning provides a few steps from her studies to start living a more positive life through thoughts.

Take time for positivity three times daily.

The neural pathways of our brains are molded and shaped during our childhoods and adolescence. It is due to this that when we finish puberty, there are certain ways of thinking that we are definitely biased towards such as looking for the “bad” in a majority of situations.

The most productive way to create new pathways is through practice, according to Breuning. It may seem a bit unnatural when we begin to redirect our thinking habits but it can be done by taking notice of the positivity that we encounter consistently.

Breuning has suggests that showing self-appreciation of your small accomplishments is a start. Breuning goes on to say, “Focus on little choices you made that worked out well. Be grateful to be gainfully employed, to sleep in a bed each night, for the sun that comes up each morning, for the waiter who greets you with a smile, for the people that love and care for you, and for a body that lets you experience life each day. Practicing gratefulness can cause almost an immediate shift in your perspective.”

Be realistic with expectations you have for yourself.

Although it may come across as counterintuitive, not expecting greatness from yourself can be advantageous. “On one hand, you don’t want to think, nothing ever goes right for me.” On the other hand, many of us are coached to avoid this by giving ourselves excessive expectations,” Dr. Breuning went on to say. Once it is realized that we cannot meet those self-imposed expectations, we feel like failures.

To avoid this cycle, it would better serve us, Dr. Breuning recommends, to set more realistic goals that we can control and take notice of the journey and appreciate it even if the outcome is bad. An example of this would be choosing a goal, an attainable one (such as learning to bake) and put forth the energy to enjoy the learning process (gaining better balance and center of gravity), regardless of what the end result is.

Chase variation.

Mix up the gratifications that you have in your life and it may result in a boost in your happiness. According to Breuning, “Our brains are designed to look for a reward, but any reward that you already have stops triggering your happy chemicals. That’s how dopamine works.”

The question remains how this can be managed. Embrace variety and spontaneity. A prime example is this: If white bread is your absolute favorite, instead of having it for every meal, try out wheat bread every other meal for a period. This will enable your brain to enjoy the white bread that much more when you do have it. The goal of this exercise would be training yourself to gain more pleasure from that which you enjoy already.


Naomi MacKenzieBeauty and hair maven Naomi Mackenzie is a freelance writer and business consultant. Her passion is to continuously keep up with the ever evolving techniques and topics as it relates to skin and hair, while helping others to embrace their own definition of beauty in a healthy way. Her blog, KissTheChaos ( shares both an educated and personal perspective, sought to spark ongoing discussion. Follow her on Instagram at @oOolala_laa and on Facebook here (